Ask Foghorn: Buying CMP Firearms?

Brian asks:

What do you think of the CMP and their M1 buy program?

My question is why you spent the time writing me an email instead of sending in your cash! Let me explain…

The Civilian marksmanship Program is a non-profit organization setup by the U.S. government to sell firearms to the American public for the purpose of promoting marksmanship. It was chartered in 1903 under the presidency of one bad-ass named Teddy Roosevelt and administers many programs including the CMP’s rifle matches, the crown jewel of which is the National Matches at Camp Perry which are held every year.

But what the CMP is best known for among shooters is their firearm sales. In order to further American marksmanship the CMP sells off old U.S. Military issue rifles, primarily old stores of World War II vintage M1 Garand rifles, with some Springfield 1903s and M1 Carbines thrown in for good measure. These were service rifles at one point, but the advent of better firearms has made them obsolete and Uncle Sam is happy to make a buck off selling them.

And while they are selling these guns for cold hard cash, they’re nowhere near street price. An M1 Garand in good condition can easily run you north of $1,000 at a gun shop, but from the CMP’s website they don’t reach much over $600.

What makes the CMP special is that they have the ability to sell directly to civilians without FFLs and ship them guns straight to their door. They are exempt from the purview of the ATF’s licensing system, and any American citizen who meets the requirements can buy a gun directly from their website.

The requirements are:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be over the age of 18
  • Be legally able to purchase a firearm
  • Be a member of a CMP affiliated club (list here)
  • Be involved in a marksmanship or firearms related activity

They define that last one in a little more detail on their website. According to them the following are eligible firearms activities:

  • Current or past military service.
  • Current or past law enforcement service
  • Participation in a rifle, pistol, air gun or shotgun competition (provide copy of results bulletin).
  • Completion of a marksmanship clinic that included live fire training (provide a copy of the certificate of completion or a statement from the instructor).
  • Distinguished, Instructor, or Coach status. – Concealed Carry License.
  • Firearms Owner Identification Cards that included live fire training. – FFL or C&R license.
  • Completion of a Hunter Safety Course that included live fire training.
  • Certification from range or club official or law enforcement officer witnessing shooting activity.

It’s still a damned low bar to set to get guns shipped to your door.

Now I know what you’re thinking. for something this awesome (and I do believe getting an M1 Garand shipped to your door qualifies) there has to be a catch, right? Well there is.

They’re running out. There are a finite number of M1 Garands in the armories of the United States, and at some point they will be all gone. The CMP has already started selling new production .22lr rifles to keep something in stock once the supplies run dry, but there will be a point in the near future when a $600 Garand is a pipe dream.

The other issue is that the line to get one is massive. People have waited months after sending in their order form to get their gun — not as long as the ATF’s NFA branch line, but still pretty long. If instant gratification is your thing this might not be for you.

The other issue is that you don’t get to choose your rifle. They pick the next one off the rack (of the appropriate “grade” based on wear and other things) and ship it to you.

You can get around most of these issues by visiting their stores in person, where you can walk away with a brand new gun that same day (provided you meet the criteria and have the cash). But there are only two stores, and I’ve never been close enough to one to go.

The CMP is an American institution. And if you ever wanted an M1 Garand or an M1 Carbine, now is the time to buy. All it takes is some paperwork and patience, and the CMP will happily ship you your very own copy of the greatest battle implement ever devised.

For more information visit their website.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via guntruth@me.com. Click here to browse previous posts]